The 10 Best Flames Forwards Ever – #1 to #5

Back on Wednesday, we trotted out the back half of the Ten Best Forwards in Flames History list. It contained the 10th through 6th-best forwards. Today, we unveil the back half.

Absent from the list? Lanny McDonald. Bless him, he had the best facial hair in sports history – Honus Wagner was close – but the drop-off during his time in Calgary was pretty stark, and if you’re judging a person by his body of work you basically have to average him out. And honestly, he just barely missed the cut – he would’ve been the 11th-best had we done a longer list.

If you didn’t check out the first-half of the list, check it out here. The top five are after the jump.

#5: HAKAN LOOB

Flame from 1983-84 to 1988-89

The second-best Swede in Flames history, Loob was an offensive dynamo when he wore the Flaming C. A former 50-goal scorer, he scored 142 of his 193 goals at even-strength – which is pretty slick. He’s at this spot because he has great numbers, but just lacked the consistency of the guys ahead of him.

#4: KENT NILSSON

Flame from 1979-80 to 1984-85

The best Swede in Flames history, the “Magic Man” boasted the greatest offensive season in franchise history (131 points in 1980-81). While Tom Lysiak might’ve been the Flames franchise’s first great player, Nilsson really took it to another level. He was as dangerous at even-strength as he was on the power-play, and he was an excellent distributor of the puck.

#3: JOE NIEUWENDYK

Flame from 1986-87 to 1994-95

Acquired with a second round pick that the Flames got for trading away Kent Nilsson, Nieuwendyk won the Calder Trophy as a rookie and scored 40+ goals in each of his first four seasons in the NHL. He was an excellent 200-foot player who used his size well and worked the angles very well on the ice. He had elite-level offensive production, but when you drill down into his numbers he was a bit too reliant on the power-play for his numbers. That’s not an indictment – it’s probably a reason behind his longevity – but it puts him at #3.

#2: THEOREN FLEURY

Flame from 1988-89 to 1998-99

A late-round pick in the 1987 Draft, Fleury made the jump to the NHL during the Stanley Cup season and got a ring on a stacked team. Then, as the All-Stars and future Hall of Famers disappeared around him, he managed to keep pumping up his offensive numbers. He might not have been as good as some of the players behind him on this list, but he played with a fearlessness that would really help in a single-game playoff. And in his prime, in the clutch, Fleury was equally adept at scoring goals and setting up his teammates.

#1: JAROME IGINLA

Flame from 1995-96 to 2012-13

Who else?

Iginla holds the majority of the Flames offensive records – both for excellence and longevity. He scored 30 goals or more in 11 straight seasons, led the NHL in goal-scoring twice, and generally was just an offensive wizard. Like Fleury, he had a degree of fearlessness on the ice, but he was also much bigger and had a greater ability to withstand punishment to generate offense. Able to generate points at even-strength or on the power-play, and equally likely to snipe one himself or pass to an open man, Iginla was Calgary’s most potent offensive weapon when he was in town.

Heck, he’s still pretty good.

  • KACaribou

    You have made your opinion completely laughable by not including the great Lanny McDonald. He was Iggy before there was Iggy. A 5-tool hockey player who got goals, assists, could skate, check or fight.

    Imagine the Hockey Hall of Fame putting him in, but this blog writer leaving him out. Admit your error or be considered a joke!

    Reichel in: Lanny not! Amazing…

  • supra steve

    Your take on Robert Reichel at #10:

    “Flame from 1990-91 to 1996-97

    The Czech sniper relied on speed and creativity to score goals. He wasn’t amazingly defensively, but he was one of the most dangerous players on the club during his tenure. Creative player, but perhaps a bit too reliant on power-play production – 48 of his 153 goals came with a man advantage.”

    RR over Lanny (and a lot of others..Patterson, Conroy, etc.)?? Pull your hear out of your….

    RR was a skilled player, but would not have cracked my top 30. The game is about more than skill.

  • BurningSensation

    Lanny still holds the record for goals in a season by a Flame (66), and for goodwill generated by bad facial hair. To top it off, he scored the signature goal in the franchises’ history to bring us our only Cup.

    How Robert Reichel could ever be considered more important than Lanny is a blackmark on FN writers.

    He belongs no lower than #4.

    • KACaribou

      To top it off, he scored the signature goal in the franchises’ history to bring us our only Cup.

      I love watching the replay of that goal (alas, I was not around for the real thing). Love the call too.

      • MattyFranchise

        My mom (as a die hard Flames fan) let me stay up late when I was a lad to watch Game 6. Lanny hoisting the Cup is something that I will never forget.

        How he’s not on the top ten list of greatest Flames of all time, let alone the greatest forwards list, is something that I will never understand.

        Frankly, it’s a travesty. Ryan Pike should be ashamed for publishing this and who ever voted on it should be ashamed for leaving Lanny off of it.

  • CofRed4Life

    One Flame who receives little recognition is Bobby Macmillan. 406 games played for the Flames in both Calgary and Atlanta. . .369 pts (144g, 225a). Even more impressive are his Atlanta scoring stats. . .306 gp, 112g and 183a. Almost a ppg player.

    I am not saying he belongs on this list, but I saw him play and he was joy to watch and deserves a mention. He was a teammate of Chouinard, Nilsson, Lysiak, Plett and Vail.

    Great players all. . .have seen the others mentioned, but wanted to put Bobby Mac’s name out there for just a bit of recognition.

    His best year was 108 pts in 77gp. Damn good by any measure.

    • KACaribou

      Simple, he’d be number 2 behind Iggy. Only because Iggy played more of his great career in Calgary than Lanny who was a better leader and just as good a warrior. 66 goals one year is pretty impressive and the face of the franchise before Jarome thankfully came along. Everyone else would drop one and Robert Reichel would slip to about 30th where he belongs.

      • BurningSensation

        I watched all these guys play and I have found memories of them all but as a player I would take all of these guys ahead of Lanny. As a person I would take him ahead of Theo.

  • MattyFranchise

    Reichel had 354 points in 425 Flames games for a 0.83 P%

    MacDonald had 406 points in 492 games for a 0.825 P%

    Pretty close right? MacDonald was the Captain with his name on the Stanley Cup. Reichel is not.

    Without any other information, which player would you rather have for your all time Flames team?

    I can see you trying to include Reichel because he was there during the decline of the Flames and was pretty good but he seriously is the only Flame on this list that is contentious.

    How Reichel got the nod over Lanny… I don’t even know dude.

  • MonsterPod

    Whoa dude. When people think of the Flames historically, they think of Lanny.

    66 goals.

    Let me repeat, 66 goals in 82/83.

    I would even put Mullen ahead of Loob.

    This is a contentious article to write, but I’m hoping in 10 years that Johnny Hockey cracks the list.

    GFG

  • mk

    I’m with the mob on this one: leaving Lanny out of the top 10 is criminal. At worst, he’s in a 8-10 spot, but I’d say he’s more likely a #5-6 all time guy. Seriously. That moustache has to be worth a couple spots.

  • MattyFranchise

    No Lanny, No Makarov. Either of them should replace Reichel. In fact, top 11 would include both, or else pull Chouinard. I’d say He was better overall in Atlanta, and we’re supposed to be talking Calgary Flames, aren’t we?